Crocodiles really produce tears. But, they do not cry in the same way that humans do. They do not produce tears to show emotions like sadness or happiness.
Why do crocodiles produce tears?
Because, while eating, they swallow too much air, which gets in touch with lachrymal glands (glands that produce tears) and forces tears to flow. So it’s not actually crying.
“Crocodile tears” also have another functionality: “crying” keep their eyes lubricated and clean. This is a necessary function to maintain good vision and prevent infection.
The term “Crocodile tears” (and equivalents in many other languages) refers to a false, insincere display of emotion, such as a hypocrite crying fake tears of grief.
It is derived from an ancient anecdote that crocodiles weep in order to lure their prey, or that they cry for the victims they are eating, first told in the Bibliotheca by Photios I, who was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. This tale was first spread widely in English in the stories of the Travels of Sir John Mandeville in the 14th century and appears in several of William Shakespeare’s plays.
So, while crocodiles do not cry emotionally, they do produce tears for functional purposes.
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